Yesterday – May 11th – was the 9th anniversary of a personal tornado intercept in Spotsylvania county. Altho’ I didn’t see (or expect) that kind of action during yesterday’s chase it was a good day anyway.
As remnants of Tropical Storm Ana trudged across eastern Virginia and a cold front over the Midwest pushed some instability out ahead of it I was faced with a two phased chase. Phase one looked like it would begin during early afternoon as high dewpoints and differential heating worked to create convection. However the subsidence left behind by Ana looked like it would be an inhibitor early in the day.
Sure enough showers and storms went up along the Appalachian ridgelines after lunchtime and slowly oozed eastward. I waited until I was certain these would hold together and committed to an intercept of some vigorous action hugging the NC/VA border. Motoring down U.S. Route 220 I made it to the Martinsville area with a few minutes to spare.
I diverted a couple miles west on U.S. Route 58 and found a spot to pull off on a side road that afforded a decent view of the convection.
However as I sat there – and live streamed – these cells faded visibly. A couple of storms further north near Ferrum pulsed upward so I pulled up stakes and headed east of Martinsville via Rte 58 before pushing north on a county road. I found a fantastic vantage point on a quiet hilltop from which I spied a fading wall cloud. I continued the live stream which was picked up by the local TV station for the 5 o’clock news.
However as I observed the action this northern convection dissipated as well.
However I could see a nice anvil from a storm over 90 miles to my northwest over the Shenandoah valley. As I sat at my tranquil rural vantage point I wondered if this activity was the leading edge of the trough and cold front pushing east. It turned out that was the case, which led to phase two of the May 11th chase.